THE GOSPEL OF ST. LUKE
Lesson 5: Chapters 4:15-5:39
Jesus' Ministry in the Galilee
The Apostles and disciples were called out of their ordinary lives to follow Jesus and thereby putting off the ordinary to become the extraordinary "the first saints of the New Covenant Church. So often we forget that we have also been called to serve Your Son in spreading His Gospel message of salvation across the face of the earth. Give us, Lord, the inspiration and the will to live as reflections of the Christ in all we say and do. Help us to be unselfish in demonstrating acts of mercy and compassion and give us the wisdom and eloquence of speech in sharing the message of Jesus' victory over sin and death and the salvation that is His gift to all who believe in Him and claim His sacrifice on the altar of the Cross. Help us in our ordinary lives to demonstrate all that He taught so that we too might aspire to sainthood in company of the Apostles in the Promised Land of Heaven. We pray in the name of God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen
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Chapter 4:14-44: The Beginning of the Galilean Ministry
He left Nazareth
and went to live in Capernaum by the sea, in the region of Zebulun and
Naphtali, that what had been said through Isaiah the prophet might be
fulfilled: "Land of Zebulun and land of Naphtali, the way to the sea, beyond
the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles, the people who sit in darkness have seen a
great light, on those dwelling in a land overshadowed by death light has
Matthew 4:15-16 quoting Isaiah 9:1- from the LXX
This fiftieth year
you shall make sacred by proclaiming liberty in the land for all its
inhabitants. It shall be a jubilee for you ...
Luke 4:14-30 ~ The beginning of Jesus' Galilean ministry
14 Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news of him spread throughout the whole region. 15 He taught in their synagogues and was praised by all. 16 He came to Nazareth, where he had grown up, and went according to his custom into the synagogue on the Sabbath day. He stood up to read 17 and was handed a scroll of the prophet Isaiah. He unrolled the scroll and found the passage where it was written: 18 "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, 19 and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord." 20 Rolling up the scroll, he handed it back to the attendant and sat down, and the eyes of all in the synagogue looked intently at him. 21 He said to them, "Today this scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing." 22 And all spoke highly of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his mouth. They also asked, "Isn't this the son of Joseph?" 23 He said to them, "Surely you will quote me this proverb, Physician, cure yourself,' and say, Do here in your native place the things that we heard were done in Capernaum.'" 24 And he said, "Amen, I say to you, no prophet is accepted in his own native place. 25 Indeed, I tell you, there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah when the sky was closed for three and a half years and a severe famine spread over the entire land. 26 It was to none of these that Elijah was sent, but only to a widow in Zarephath in the land of Sidon. 27 Again, there were many lepers in Israel during the time of Elisha the prophet; yet not one of them was cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian." 28 When the people in the synagogue heard this, they were all filled with fury. 29 They rose up, drove him out of the town, and led him to the brow of the hill on which their town had been built, to hurl him down headlong. 30 But he passed through the midst of them and went away.
Question: How does the summary statement in verses
14-15 characterize Jesus' Galilean ministry?
It is this same teaching that has been imparted to Theophilus, the man to whom Luke's Gospel is dedicated (Lk 1:4).
Question: Since Jesus was baptized by the priest John
son of Zechariah with a baptism of anointing by the Holy Spirit to begin His
ministry, why didn't Jesus begin teaching in Judea in the south instead of
traveling back to the Galilee in the north? How do the historical events of
the Assyrian conquest, first of the Galilee in 733-32 BC and later of the whole
Northern Kingdom in 722 BC, became part of God's divine plan to restore His
people through Jesus' ministry? See 1 Kng 15:27-29; 17:1-12.
Answer: Jesus is purposely beginning His restoration of the new Israel in the very territory where Israel was first torn asunder and the Israelite tribes of the Galilee were scattered into the Gentile lands to the east.
Question: How is Isaiah's prophecy in 7:14 and 8:23-9:1-6
fulfilled in Jesus? These verses are quoted in Matthew 1:23 and 4:15-16.
Answer: As prophesied by the 8th century BC prophet Isaiah, Jesus, the promised "God with us" (Emmanuel) who was born of a virgin has come as a "light" to the Galilee. He is:
Notice that the passage from Isaiah quoted in Matthew 4:15-16 speaks of a universal salvation, not only to the people of God living in the Galilee but to the Gentiles who live to the east side of the Jordan River in the Decapolis (ten Gentile, Greek culture cities) who will also come to hear Him preach (Mt 4:25; Mk 5:20; 7:31).
There was a historical reason for beginning His ministry in the Galilee but there was also a strategic reason for centering His ministry in the Galilee. Two of the great international trade routes passed through or by the Galilee: the Via Maris traveled from Egypt along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea up into the Galilee and beyond into Syria, Mesopotamia and Asia Minor, and the King's Highway came out of Mesopotamia through Damascus and passed to the east of the Galilee, with many minor routes crossing over to join the Via Maris. Jesus didn't have to work to find people to hear His Gospel message " crowds of people traveled these trade routes, especially at the time of the prescribed Holy Day festivals, called the "pilgrim feasts," where every man of the covenant had to present himself before God's altar in Jerusalem at the feasts of Passover/Unleavened Bread (considered one 8-day feast in the 1st century AD, Weeks (called Pentecost in the 1st century) and Tabernacles/Shelters (see Ex 23:14-17; 34:18-23; Dt 16:16; 1 Chr 8:13 and also Jn 6:4).
In Luke 4:14-30, Jesus gives His first homily in which He uses three Old Testament references:
Jesus came to His hometown of Nazareth and attended the Sabbath day (Saturday) service in the local Synagogue. Nazareth is the Greek rendering of the Hebrew Nasret which may be derived from the Hebrew word "consecrate" (nazir) or "branch" (netzer/nezer). The town is located on the south western side of the Sea of Galilee about 15 miles from the tip of the southern shore. The town is not mentioned in the Old Testament but an inscription naming Nazareth has been found at Caesarea that dates to the 1st century AD. The town of Nazareth was insignificant (Jn 1:45-46), but it was located near the major trade highway known as the Via Maris ("Way of the Sea").
Verse 16 notes that it was "his custom" to keep the Sabbath command (Ex 20:8-11; 31:12-17; 34:21; 35:1-3; Dt 6:12-15) by coming to the Synagogue. Worship expressed in sacrifice took place in the Jerusalem Temple, but for those communities that were located too far away from the Temple worship through prayer and praise took place in the Synagogue where the Sacred Scriptures were read and reflected upon. The president of the Synagogue was authorized to ask any male of the covenant to read and expound on the Scripture to the congregation. He asked Jesus to stand and read the Scripture for that Saturday Sabbath service. The passage Jesus read was from the Septuagint Greek translation of the scroll of Isaiah 61:1-2: 18 "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings [good news = gospel] to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, 19 and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord" (emphasis added).
Question: Normally, after the Scripture reading, the
reader took his seat and then gave a teaching on the passage. What did Jesus
tell the congregation and what did He mean? Read the Isaiah passage in context
in Is 60:20-61:3; also see Lev 25:8-55.
Answer: Jesus told congregation that the prophecy of Isaiah was fulfilled in Him. He was revealing to His neighbors that He is the promised "Anointed One," that Isaiah wrote about in this passage, and therefore He has the authority to proclaim an extraordinary divine Jubilee liberation for the people of God as described in the prophecy.
"Anointed One" is the meaning of the word "Messiah" and refers to one who is anointed with God's Spirit, as King David was "the anointed of God" (2 Sam 23:1-17; Ps 18:51; 132:10, 17). Jesus declares to the people of Nazareth that He is the chosen servant of God that Isaiah wrote about who is "anointed" with the Spirit to bring justice to the earth. The people should have also recalled a similar passage from Isaiah 42:1-7. God put His Spirit upon Jesus to make Him "a covenant of the people, " "a light to the nations" and the liberator of the captives "who live in darkness": Here is my servant whom I uphold, my chosen one with whom I am pleased, upon whom I have put my spirit; he shall bring forth justice to the nations ... I, the LORD, have called you for the victory of justice, I have grasped you by the hand; I formed you, and set you as a covenant of the people, a light for the nations, to open the eyes of the blind, to bring out prisoners from confinement, and from the dungeon, those who live in darkness (Is 42:1, 6-7).
But what was the prophet Isaiah referring to when the passage Jesus quoted mentions proclaiming liberty in "a year acceptable to the LORD" (Is 61:1-2)? In the seven annual sacred feasts, the covenant people relived the Exodus experience. However, in every seventh year, called a Sabbath year, and every fiftieth year (after the seventh Sabbath year), called a Jubilee year, the Israelites were to demonstrated the same mercy and compassion God showed to them in the Exodus liberation by extending mercy to each other. The Jubilee year was to be a "year of liberation" (see Lev 25:10). It was understood by the people from the prophecies of Isaiah that with the coming of the Messiah that He would generate a divine jubilee of grace and restoration, dispensing justice to the poor and suffering (i.e., Is 42:1-9; 49:5-13; 50:14-16; 61:1-11).
THE LIBERATION OF THE EXODUS EXPRESSED IN
THE JUBILEE YEAR OF GRACE
Proclamation of the Jubilee year: Seven weeks of years shall you count "seven times seven years "so that the seven cycles amount to forty-nine years. [...]. This fiftieth year you shall make sacred by proclaiming liberty in the land for all its inhabitants. Leviticus 25:8, 10
|1. The land would be redeemed and all land debts forgiven (Lev 25:13-17).||1. God redeemed the "firstborn" of Israel (Ex 12:1-34) just as He redeemed all of Israel to take possession of the Promised Land.|
|2. All Israelite slaves are to be freed (Lev 25:35-55).||2. God freed Israel from slavery in Egypt (Ex 12:37-51).|
|3. The land would revert to the tribal family entrusted with it (Lev 25:10, 23-34).||3. God gave Israel stewardship of the Promised Land (Josh 3-4).|
In saying that He was the fulfillment of the Isaiah passage, Jesus was proclaiming a "liberation" that would bring about in a "new Exodus." The people were expecting that the Messiah would liberate them from their oppressors (in the 1st century AD the Romans), but that was not the kind of "exodus" that Jesus was bringing. The meaning of His "new exodus" becomes clear in Luke 9:28-31 in the event of the Transfiguration: About eight days after he said this, he took Peter, John, and James and went up the mountain to pray. While he was praying his face changed in appearance and his clothing became dazzling white. And behold, two men were conversing with him, Moses and Elijah, who appeared in glory and spoke of his exodus that he was going to accomplish in Jerusalem (emphasis added).
Question: According to
Luke 9:31, what was the "exodus" and liberation that Jesus' was bringing?
Answer: Jesus' liberation was not from the Romans or to free Jewish slaves. His liberation was from slavery to sin and death and His "exodus" was to be from death to resurrection.
THE "NEW EXODUS" LIBERATION FULFILLED IN JESUS CHIRST
|Liberation||Fulfilled in Christ|
|1. The debt of the curses incurred for failing to keep the Old Covenant Law were forgiven (Lev 26:14-46; Deut 28:15-68).||Galatians 3:13: Christ ransomed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written, Cursed be everyone who hangs on a tree...'|
|2. He freed us from slavery to sin and death.||Romans 6:6: We know that our old self was crucified with him, so that our sinful body might be done away with, that we might no longer be in slavery to sin.|
|3. Through His death, burial, and Resurrection we received the promise of eternal life in the true Promise Land, the Kingdom of Heaven.||Luke 23:42-43: Then he said, Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.' He replied to him, Amen, I say to you. Today you will be with me in Paradise.'|
|Michal Hunt, Copyright © 2013 Agape Bible Study. Permissions All Rights Reserved.|
Question: What was the people's response to Jesus'
Answer: At first they were delighted.
Luke 4:22-24 And all spoke highly of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his mouth. They also asked, "Isn't this the son of Joseph?" 23 He said to them, "Surely you will quote me this proverb, Physician, cure yourself,' and say, Do here in your native place the things that we heard were done in Capernaum.'" 24 And he said, "Amen, I say to you, no prophet is accepted in his own native place.
Despite their favorable response to His announcement, Jesus knew their thoughts and their desire for some miracle as proof of His claim.
They also asked, "Isn't this the son of Joseph? Their comment should not be interpreted as a negative response to Jesus' announcement, as the little proverb Jesus quotes next proves. Jesus quotes the first of two proverbs, saying to them "Surely you will quote me this proverb, Physician, cure yourself,'" quoting them a little secular proverb that was a well-known maxim in antiquity (Green, page 217; Fitzmyer, page 535). The proverb was evidently employed in an argument to insist that one must not do favors for others that are refused to one's own people or that one must not benefit another by refusing the same benefits to one's own family or community. In other words, the people of Nazareth have heard of the miracles Jesus has worked for the people of Capernaum and are expecting the same benefit of miracles for their community, as He tells them ... and say, Do here in your native place the things that we heard were done in Capernaum'" (Lk 4:23).
Capernaum was the hometown of Peter, Andrew, John and James Zebedee and is mentioned by Josephus as having natural springs (Jewish Wars, 3.10.8 . It was one of the most important towns in the region and was a major commercial and population center on the northwest shore of the Sea of Galilee. Many fishermen, like Peter who was formerly from Bethsidea, located their fishing business there since there was a processing business for salting and shipping fish in nearby Taricheae ("preserved fish town"). The Romans made contracts with local fisherman for shipping salt preserved fish or manufactured fish sauce to parts of the Roman Empire. Capernaum became the headquarters for Jesus' Galilean ministry.
Luke 4:24 And he said, "Amen [Amen, amen], I say to you, no prophet is accepted in his own native place.
"Amen" is a Hebrew word used in a proclamation or corroborating statement in both the Old and New Testaments; it is often doubled to emphasize the statement and is the only Hebrew word found in Luke's Gospel.(1) This same proverb is quoted with slight variation in all the Gospels (Mt 13:57; Mk 6:4 and Jn 4:44), as well as in secular documents like the Oxyrhyuchus Papyri and the non-canonical Gospel of Thomas.
Question: What did Jesus mean by quoting this maxim?
Answer: First He has put Himself in the same class as Elijah and Elisha whose stories He referenced; He is a prophet. And as a prophet He is predicting the historical precedent that all God's prophets down through salvation history have been rejected by their own people. Jesus' point is that the people of Nazareth's previously formed perception of Him as only a member of their community they have known since He was a child will inhibit their faith in Him as the Messiah and the vision of who He really is and what He has come to accomplish.
Luke 4:25-27 Indeed, I tell you, there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah when the sky was closed for three and a half years and a severe famine spread over the entire land. 26 It was to none of these that Elijah was sent, but only to a widow in Zarephath in the land of Sidon. 27 Again, there were many lepers in Israel during the time of Elisha the prophet; yet not one of them was cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian."
Then Jesus cites the works of two of God's prophets who were rejected by their own people. In the days of Elijah, the people turned away from God, rejecting His prophets and giving themselves up to Baal worship (1 Kng 16:29-33). God punished the Israelites for their sins by withholding the rains and a famine spread over the land (1 Kng 17:1). But the prophet Elijah was not sent to help the Israelites who had rejected him.
Sidon was one of the oldest Phoenician cities located on the Mediterranean coast about 20 miles north of Tyre (near modern day Beirut).
In the second example, Jesus cites the story of Elijah's successor, the prophet Elisha and the army commander of the king of Aram.
Question: When the king of Aram sent a letter with
his general requesting that a prophet heal his general of leprosy, the king of
Israel did not think to send for Elisha to heal the commander, Naaman.
However, Elisha offered to heal the man as evidence that "there is a prophet in
Israel." What happened? See 2 Kng 5:1-14.
Answer: Out of desperation and not belief, the King of Israel sent Naaman to Elisha. When Naaman the Aramean general was healed of his leprosy, he acknowledged "there is no God in all the earth, except in Israel."
Question: What did the two stories have in common?
Answer: When the people of the covenant rejected God's prophets, He sent His prophets to non-Jewish Gentiles who were more receptive to His gift of grace.
Luke 4:29 They rose up, drove him out of the town, and led him to the brow of the hill on which their town had been built, to hurl him down headlong. 30 But he passed through the midst of them and went away.
Question: What is the significance of both these
stories that Jesus cited to the Israelites of Nazareth and what made them so
Answer: Jesus' threat was not lost on the people of Nazareth. When the covenant people reject the works of God through His prophets, God sends His prophets to do His works among the Gentiles. The suggestion that the Israelites' rejection of Him could also lead to the offer of God's grace to the Gentiles enraged the Israelites of Nazareth. They might also have tried to kill Him because they judged Him to be a false prophet for refusing to do a miracle for them.
The "brow of the hill" mentioned in verse 29 had been problematic since no topographical feature could be found in present day Nazareth to correspond to this description. However, recent excavations have uncovered a rock formation below the surface of modern Nazareth which had been buried by later building on the site that could fit the description in the passage (McKenzie, "Nazareth," page 608).
Question: What happened when the townspeople
attempted to kill Jesus?
Answer: He miraculously passed through the crowd and went away.
Question: What was ironic about Jesus escaping the
wrath of the crowd?
Answer: They wanted Jesus to perform a miracle for them, but His disappearing from them was the only miracle they would ever see.
Question: What does the cycle of events in this
incident in the Synagogue in Nazareth foreshadow?
Answer: The people's initial admiration and acceptance of Jesus and then the subsequent rejection of His message and the attempt to kill Him by the people of his own hometown is a foreshadowing of the whole future of His ministry. At first the Jews and Israelites will gladly receive His healings and His teachings, but then opposition will grow until Jesus is rejected by many of His own people who will succeed in having Him put to death.
Luke 4:31-37 ~ Jesus' ministry in Capernaum
31 Jesus then went down to Capernaum, a town of Galilee. He taught them on the Sabbath, 32 and they were astonished at his teaching because he spoke with authority. 33 In the synagogue there was a man with the spirit of an unclean demon, and he cried out in a loud voice, 34 "Ha! What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are "the Holy One of God!" 35 Jesus rebuked him and said, "Be quiet! Come out of him!" Then the demon threw the man down in front of them and came out of him without doing him any harm. 36 They were all amazed and said to one another, "What is there about his word? For with authority and power he commands the unclean spirits, and they come out." 37 And news of him spread everywhere in the surrounding region.
Jesus returned to Capernaum to continue His ministry, teaching in the Synagogue on the next Sabbath. According to Luke 7:5 the Capernaum Synagogue was built under the auspices a Roman centurion who loved the God of Israel and His people.(2) The congregation was favorably disposed to Jesus because they recognized the authority of Jesus' teaching.
Luke 4:33-34 In the synagogue there was a man with the spirit of an unclean demon, and he cried out in a loud voice, 34 "Ha! What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are "the Holy One of God!"
Question: What is ironic about Jesus' encounter with
the people of Nazareth compared to His encounter with the demon?
Answer: The people of His own hometown did not recognize Jesus' as God's Anointed, but the demon recognized His true identity.
Question: Was the demon right; had Jesus come to
destroy Satan and his demons? See 1 Jn 3:8
Answer: Absolutely. By His power over demons, Jesus is destroying the devil's kingdom and is inaugurating the Messianic Kingdom characterized by the Holy Spirit.
Luke 4:35 Jesus rebuked him and said, "Be quiet! Come out of him!" Then the demon threw the man down in front of them and came out of him without doing him any harm.
The demons have no doubt about Jesus' true identity. Physical sickness, mental illness/ demon possession are byproducts of sin and evidence of Satan's influence in the world.
Question: Did Jesus cast out the demon by magic? See
Lev 19:26, 31; 20:6, 27; Dt 18:10-12.
Answer: Absolutely not. In casting out the demon, Jesus was not divining "sorcery/magical power in any form is strictly forbidden by God. Having divine authority, Jesus had absolute power over demons.
Luke 4:36-37 They were all amazed and said to one another, "What is there about his word? For with authority and power he commands the unclean spirits, and they come out." 37 And news of him spread everywhere in the surrounding region.
Having previously recognized the authority of Jesus' teaching, the congregation at Capernaum now recognizes Jesus' authority over unclean spirits. News of His words and works spread throughout the Galilee.
Luke 4:38-42 ~ Jesus cures Simon's mother-in-law and
38 After he left the synagogue, he entered the house of Simon. Simon's mother-in-law was afflicted with a severe fever, and they interceded with him about her. 39 He stood over her, rebuked the fever, and it left her. She got up immediately and waited on them. 40 At sunset, all who had people sick with various diseases brought them to him. He laid his hands on each of them and cured them. 41 And demons also came out from many, shouting, "You are the Son of God." But he rebuked them and did not allow them to speak because they knew that he was the Messiah.
Question: Luke has not yet introduced Simon-Peter,
but where did Simon first meet Jesus? See Jn 1:35-51.
Answer: We know from St. John's Gospel that the Galilean fishermen Simon, his brother Andrew and their fishing partners, the brothers James and John Zebedee all met Jesus at the site of John the Baptist's ritual baptism on the east side of the Jordan River when St. John identified Jesus as the Messiah (Jn 1:35-42). It was in that initial meeting that Jesus first called Simon "Peter" (Jn 1:42). The Apostles Nathanael and Philip also met Jesus at the same time (Jn 1:43-51).
Simon-Peter's house is directly across from the Synagogue in Capernaum. The house became a Church-home shortly after the Resurrection and has long been identified by Christians. That people interceded with Jesus to heal Simon's mother-in-law points to the power of intercessory prayer. Just as Jesus rebuked the demon (4:25), He also rebuked her sickness and healed Simon's mother-in-law. Both the demon and illness are the result of Satan's power in the world.
Question: In her gratitude, what did she do?
Answer: She immediately got up and served Jesus.
Luke 4:40 At sunset, all who had people sick with various diseases brought them to him. He laid his hands on each of them and cured them.
No work was to be done on the Sabbath ( Ex 21:10; 31:12-15; 34:21; Dt 6:13-14) including "healing" according to the Pharisees (see 6:6-11). In accordance with these restrictions, many of the people didn't bring their sick to Jesus until the Sabbath was ended at sunset when the next day began. In the observed seasonal twelve-hour day, it was about 6 PM when the people began to come to Jesus for healings.
Question: What does Jesus' laying His hands upon
those in need of healing signify? See Num 27:18-23.
Answer: The laying on of hands in the Old and New Testaments signifies the transfer of power and authority by God's Spirit.
Laying His hands upon those He heals and exorcising demons demonstrates the active power of the Spirit of God in and through Jesus.
Luke 4:41 And demons also came out from many, shouting, "You are the Son of God." But he rebuked them and did not allow them to speak because they knew that he was the Messiah.
Jesus offered physical and spiritual healing. He purified both body and soul.
Question: Why did Jesus forbid the demons to say He
was the Messiah?
Answer: It is only for the righteous to declare Jesus the Messiah, not unclean spirits.
Notice that this is the second time healing and exorcism of demons are paired, and as before the demons are both rebuked and silenced (see 4:33-39). Also notice that Jesus' acts of healing are not limited to the privileged, but He embraces the poor, the demonized who are cut off from society and women.
Luke 4:42-44 ~ Jesus leaves Capernaum
42 At daybreak, Jesus left and went to a deserted place. The crowds went looking for him, and when they came to him, they tried to prevent him from leaving them. 43 But he said to them, "To the other towns also I must proclaim the good news of the kingdom of God, because for this purpose I have been sent." 44 And he was preaching in the synagogues of Judea.
Daybreak would have been the day after the Saturday Sabbath, the first day of the week that we call Sunday (which began at sundown twelve hours earlier). Jesus went to a "deserted place" to pray, as He did sometimes during His ministry (Mt 14:13; 26:36; Mk 6:32; Lk 5:16). The crowds of people followed Him and tried to keep Him from leaving the vicinity of Capernaum. But He explained to them that His mission was to proclaim a Gospel that was not limited only to them.
Question: What is it that the crowds do not yet
understand about Jesus?
Answer: Clearly the favorable crowds do not yet understand His mission and are only interested in securing Jesus' gifts of healing for themselves. They have not come to the realization that to follow Jesus means to totally reorient their lives around Him and His Gospel message, to repent all sin, and to become part of the Kingdom of God (Mt 5:17).
Luke 4:44 And he was preaching in the synagogues of Judea.
Question: What is the problem with this verse?
Answer: The Galilee is not considered part of Judea. Judea in the south was ruled by the Roman Prefect Pontius Pilate while the Galilee in the north was ruled by Herod Antipas. The territory in between was Samaria, also ruled by Pilate.
An explanation might be:
Matthew 4:25 reads: And great crowds from Galilee, the Decapolis, Jerusalem, and Judea, and from beyond the Jordan followed him.
Chapter 5: Jesus Calls His Apostles
Jesus continues His ministry in a combination of word and deeds. In Luke 5:1-6:11 there are six episodes that define Jesus' mission to the covenant people. His actions are defined by gratitude and controversy, liberation and acceptance.
Luke 5:1-11 ~ Jesus calls Galilean fisherman to be His
1 While the crowd was pressing in on Jesus and listening to the word of God, he was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret. 2 He saw two boats there alongside the lake; the fishermen had disembarked and were washing their nets. 3 Getting into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, he asked him to put out a short distance from the shore. Then he sat down and taught the crowds from the boat. 4 After he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, "Put out into deep water and lower your nets for a catch." 5 Simon said in reply, "Master, we have worked hard all night and have caught nothing, but at your command I will lower the nets." 6 When they had done this they caught a great number of fish and their nets were tearing. 7 They signaled to their partners in the other boat to come to help them. They came and filled both boats so that they were in danger of sinking. 8 When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at the knees of Jesus and said, "Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man." 9 For astonishment at the catch of fish they had made seized him and all those with him, 10 and likewise James and John, the sons of Zebedee, who were partners of Simon. Jesus said to Simon, "Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men." 11 When they brought their boats to the shore, they left everything and followed him.
The Sea of Galilee was known by several names including Lake Gennesaret and the Sea of Tiberias. It was the practice of Galilean fisherman to fish at night and to return to the shore at sunrise to unload the catch and to mend their nets. Jesus asked Simon for the use of his boat as a platform from which to address the large crowd. Mark 1:16-20 provides the information that Simon and his brother Andrew were in the fishing business and were partners with Zebedee and his sons James and John (Mt 4:18-22; Mk 1:16-20).
Question: Was this the first time the Galilean
fishermen had met Jesus? See Jn 1:35-51.
Answer: No, they first met Jesus when they had been baptized by John the Baptist in Perea on the east side of the Jordan River.
The vantage point of the boat provided a natural amphitheater from which to teach. Notice that, as was the custom, that Jesus sat down to teach. After His teaching, knowing that the fishermen had caught no fish the night before, Jesus told them to lower their nets into the water.
Question: What happened next and what is the cause of
Answer: So many fish were caught that they had to call the other boat to help with the catch. Simon recognized that a miracle had taken place and that Jesus was indeed the Messiah. Coming face to face with God's Anointed he was suddenly conscious of his sins.
Simon's reaction is similar to the reaction of Isaiah when he came into the presence of the divine in Isaiah chapter 6. Isaiah said: "Woe is me, I am doomed! For I am a man of unclean lips, living among a people of unclean lips; yet my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!" With the evidence of the miraculous catch of fish, Simon recognizes the vast difference between his human condition as a sinner and Jesus righteousness as the Holy One of God. It is exactly the same reaction each of us should have when we face Christ's representative, the priest, in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
Notice that Simon-Peter's epiphany and commissioning by Jesus is similar to Isaiah's experience of God and his commissioning in Isaiah 6:1-10. Simon-Peter also refers to Jesus as "Lord" (see Is 6:5 and Lk 5:8).
|Isaiah 6:1-10||Luke 5:1-11|
|Isaiah's experience of epiphany: ... I saw the Lord seated on a high and lofty throne, with the train of his garment filling the Temple. Seraphim were stationed above; each of them had six wings: with two they veiled their faces, with two they veiled their feet, and with two they hovered aloft. "Holy, holy, holy is the LORD [YHWH] of hosts!" they cried one to the other. "All the earth is filled with his glory!" At the sound of that cry, the frame of the door shook and the house was filled with smoke (verses 1-3).||Simon-Peter's experience of epiphany: After he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, "Put out into deep water and lower your nets for a catch." Simon said in reply, "Master, we have worked hard all night and have caught nothing, but at your command I will lower the nets." When they had done this, they caught a great number of fish and their nets were tearing. They signaled to their partners in the other boat to come to help them. They came and filled both boats so that they were in danger of sinking (verses 1-4).|
|Isaiah's reaction: Then I said, "Woe is me, I am doomed! For I am a man of unclean lips, living among a people of unclean lips; yet my eyes have seen the King, the LORD [YHWH] of hosts!" (verse 5).||Simon-Peter's reaction: When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at the knees of Jesus and said, "Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man" (verse 8).|
|Isaiah's reassurance: Then one of the seraphim flew to me, holding an ember which he had taken with tongs from the altar. He touched my mouth with it. "See," he said, "now that this has touched your lips, your wickedness is removed, your sin purged" (verses 6-7).||Simon-Peter's reassurance: Jesus said to Simon, "do not be afraid ... (verse 10b).|
|Isaiah's commissioning: Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, "Whom shall I send? Who will go for us?" "Here I am;" I said; "send me!" And he replied: "Go ... (verses 8-10).||Simon-Peter's commissioning: from now on you will be catching men." When they brought their boats to the shore, they left everything and followed him (verse 10b).|
|Michal Hunt, Copyright © 2013 Agape Bible Study. Permissions All Rights Reserved.|
Luke 5:9-11 For astonishment at the catch of fish they had made seized him and all those with him, 10 and likewise James and John, the sons of Zebedee, who were partners of Simon. Jesus said to Simon, "Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men." 11 When they brought their boats to the shore, they left everything and followed him.
Jesus' words "from now on" (also see Lk 1:48; 2:52; 22:18; Acts 18:6) emphasize the end of Simon's old life and the beginning of his new life as Simon-Peter, Simon "the Rock" (Jn 1:42). In his commissioning Jesus tells Simon that the miracle of the fish catch will be eclipsed by Simon's "catch" of the lives of men and women for Christ's Kingdom. The night of unproductive human work will be replaced by fruitful work in proclaiming the word under Jesus' authority. "Fishers of men" is a prophetic symbol for proclaiming the Gospel in God's economy of salvation. Simon's brother Andrew (unnamed in this episode but see the same event in Mt 4:18) and their partners James and John Zebedee will now become partners in proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It is the beginning of Jesus' community of believers.The fishermen made the same choice Jesus asks each of us to make - to be willing to leave everything in our earthly lives behind to follow Him.
Luke 5:12-16 ~ The cleansing of a leper
12 Now there was a man full of leprosy in one of the towns where he was; and when he saw Jesus, he fell prostrate, pleaded with him, and said, "Lord, if you wish, you can make me clean." 13 Jesus stretched out his hand, touched him, and said, "I do will it. Be made clean." And the leprosy left him immediately. 14 Then he ordered him not to tell anyone, but "Go, show yourself to the priest and offer for your cleansing what Moses prescribed; that will be proof for them." 15 The report about him spread all the more, and great crowds assembled to listen to him and to be cured of their ailments, 16 but he would withdraw to deserted place to pray.
Notice that the leper humbly addressed Jesus as "Lord," acknowledging Jesus' superior status and authority. The prophet Elisha also cleansed a leper (2 Kng 5:1-14). There is a reoccurring link between Elisha's ministry and Jesus. Elisha was the greater successor of the prophet Elijah just as Jesus is the greater successor of John the Baptist who came in the power and spirit of Elijah. Elisha cured the sick, healed lepers and even raised the dead.
Question: Why did the leper beg Jesus to "make me clean"?
See Lev 13:9-11, 45-46.
Answer: If a person was diagnosed with a contagious skin disease, he or she was declared ritually unclean, could not live in the community and must wear torn clothing and shout out "unclean" whenever other people came near. The person believed in Jesus' power to heal him.
Such persons could not attend worship in the Temple or join with a congregation in a local Synagogue and anyone who came in contact with one so afflicted could also become ritually "unclean." The person was virtually ostracized from the community. In asking to be made "clean" the man was asking to be healed so he can rejoin his family and his community.
Luke 5:13-14 Jesus stretched out his hand, touched him, and said, "I do will it. Be made clean." And the leprosy left him immediately. 14 Then he ordered him not to tell anyone, but "Go, show yourself to the priest and offer for your cleansing what Moses prescribed; that will be proof for them."
Question: What was ironic about the way in which
Jesus healed the man?
Answer: Jesus touched the man, an action that would normally make a Jew "unclean," but not only was Jesus not affected by the man's state of impurity, He transferred His purity to the man who was then healed.
Question: Why did Jesus tell the cleansed leper not
to tell anyone but to go and show himself to a priest? Lev 14:1-32.
Answer: Jesus must control the pace of the people's recognition that He is the Messiah. It is not yet time for the religious authority's opposition to Him to build. He also wanted the man to be able to be readmitted to the community according to the Law of Moses, which requires a priest to pronounce the man ritually "clean" again and therefore have admittance to the Temple sacrifices.
Luke 5:15-16 The report about him spread all the more, and great crowds assembled to listen to him and to be cured of their ailments, 15 but he would withdraw to deserted place to pray.
This is the second mention that Jesus withdrew to an isolated area to pray(see 4:42). Quiet time alone with God was important to Jesus.
Luke 5:17-26 ~ The healing of a paralytic
17 One day as Jesus was teaching, Pharisees and teachers of the law were sitting there who had come from every village of Galilee and Judea and Jerusalem, and the power of the Lord was with him for healing. 18 And some men brought on a stretcher a man who was paralyzed; they were trying to bring him in and set [him] in his presence. 19 But not finding a way to bring him in because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and lowered him on the stretcher through the tiles into the middle in front of Jesus. 20 When he saw their faith, he said, "As for you, your sins are forgiven. 21 Then the scribes and Pharisees began to ask themselves, "Who is this who speaks blasphemies? Who but God alone can forgive sins?" 22 Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them in reply, "What are you thinking in your hearts? 23 Which is easier, to say, Your sins are forgiven,' or to say, Rise and walk'? 24 But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins" "he said to the man who was paralyzed, "I say to you, rise, pick up your stretcher, and go home." 25 He stood up immediately before them, picked up what he had been laying on, and went home, glorifying God. 26 Then astonishment seized them all and they glorified God, and, struck with awe, they said, "We have seen incredible things today."
That Jesus had the power to cast out demons and heal the sick did not automatically cause the people to believe He was the Messiah. Many of God's holy prophets had these spiritual gifts. Notice in this passage that paralysis is the focus in the beginning and in the end of the encounter (verses 18-19b and 24b-25). A comparison can be made between the man's condition and religious state of the Old Covenant people who "paralyzed" in the sense that sin has made them unable to fulfill their destiny to bring the pagan nations of the world to know and accept the God of Israel. Instead, their lack of faith has become a barrier just as the crowd is a barrier to the friends of the paralyzed man who are trying to reach Jesus to heal their friend.
Question: Finding it impossible to reach Jesus, what
do the man's friends do?
Answer: So great is the determination of his friends to reach Jesus that they remove the tiles of the roof and lower down their friend into Jesus' presence.
Luke 5:20-21 When he saw their faith, he said, "As for you, your sins are forgiven. 21 Then the scribes and Pharisees began to ask themselves, "Who is this who speaks blasphemies? Who but God alone can forgive sins?"
This is the first use of the word "faith" in Luke's Gospel. It signifies a response to an experience with God that generated belief in God's power and authority.
Question: Whose faith is Jesus praising in verse 20? What lesson can be drawn from this incident?
Answer: He praises the faith of the man and his friends.
Question: What makes this event different from Jesus'
Answer: Jesus releases the man from his sins as He heals him which generates a negative reaction from the Pharisees and the scribes who charge Jesus with the sin of blasphemy for claiming to be God by forgiving the man's sins. We must not neglect active intercession with God on behalf of others. Our faith in God's mercy and grace can make a difference in someone's life.
Of course the answer to their rhetorical question, "Who is this..." and their statement "Who but God alone can forgive sins?" is that Jesus is indeed God "a revelation that has not yet been revealed. Blasphemy was abusive or contemptuous language directed toward God or the claim that one is God. In the Holiness Code, blasphemy was punishable by death (Lev 24:16). It is the charge by which Jesus will be condemned in His trial by the Jewish high court, called the Sanhedrin, in the last year of His ministry. The Pharisees are the most powerful religious party composed of laymen, priests and scholars of the Law. They practiced a very strict interpretation of the Law of Moses. The scribes were the teachers of the Law, many of whom were Pharisees. This incident is the beginning of the Pharisees' hostility to Jesus and His ministry.
This controversy with the Pharisees is mentioned four times in verses 20, 21, 23 and 24a as they confront Him three times challenging the legitimacy of His ministry. There is no doubt in this passage that in declaring the man's sins forgiven that Jesus is claiming a divine authority.
Question: How is His response to the scribes and
Pharisees in verse 22 a fulfillment of Simeon's prophecy in Luke 2:35?
Answer: Simeon prophesized that "this child is destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be contradicted...so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed."
Jesus recognized their opposition not only by their words but by reading their minds and hearts.
The Pharisees are in a dilemma. By forgiving sins Jesus is either blaspheming as a man who is claiming to be the equal of God or He speaking the truth and is revealing Himself as a divine Redeemer-Messiah (also see Jn 5:18; 10:33; 17:6, 26). They chose to denounce Jesus as a blasphemer (CCC 589).
Luke 5:22-24 Jesus
knew their thoughts and said to them in reply, "What are you thinking in your
hearts? 23 Which is easier, to
say, Your sins are forgiven,' or to say, Rise and walk'? 24 But that you may know that the Son of Man has
authority on earth to forgive sins" "he said to the man who was paralyzed, "I
say to you, rise, pick up your stretcher, and go home."
Jesus corrects the Pharisees criticism by telling them He does have the power and the authority to heal and to forgive sins. Jesus then tells the man to give evidence of his spiritual and physical healing by rising from his pallet. This is the first time in Luke's Gospel that Jesus uses the title "Son of Man" for Himself. Usually "son of man" means a descendant of Adam, a human being. But Jesus will use this favorite title for Himself to express both His humanity and divinity as a fulfillment of the "Son of Man" vision of the prophet Daniel in Daniel 7:13, a passage Jesus will quote at His trial.
Outside of the gospels, where Jesus frequently refers to himself as "Son of Man", this title is only found in the New Testament in three other places; in Acts 7:56; Rev 1:13 and 14:14. The Aramaic (common language of Jesus' time) for "son of man" is bar'nishah and originally meant 'man' or one descended from Adam. But the use of "Son of Man" in this passage in the context of His power and authority to forgive sins is clearly a reference to Daniel's vision in Daniel 7:13-14 I was gazing into the visions of the night when I saw, coming on the clouds of heaven, as it were a Son of Man. He came to the One most venerable and was led into His presence. On Him was conferred rule, honor, and kingship.... Besides the Daniel passage where the "Son of Man" title refers to the Messiah, the expression is only found in the Old Testament to express the humanity of Gods prophets in the book of Ezekiel (where God addressed Ezekiel as "son of man" 93 times beginning in Ezek 2:1) and one other time in the book of Daniel where God called Daniel "son of man" in Daniel 8:17 "Son of man, He said to me, understand this: the vision shows the time of the End."
Luke 5:25-26 He stood up immediately before them, picked up what he had been laying on, and went home, glorifying God. 26 Then astonishment seized them all and they glorified God, and, struck with awe, they said, "We have seen incredible things today."
The evidence of Jesus' power and authority rests in the fulfillment of His blessing. This is not missed on the crowd including the first disciples who grasp the significance of Jesus' work and respond with wonder, fear/awe and praise.
Luke 5:27-32 ~ The call of Levi (Matthew)
27 After this he went out and saw a tax collector named Levi sitting at the customs post. He said to him, "follow me." 28 And leaving everything behind, he got up and followed him. 29 Then Levi gave a great banquet for him in his house, and a large crowd of tax collectors and others were at table with them. 30 The Pharisees and their scribes complained to his disciples, saying, "Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?" 31 Jesus said to them in reply, "Those who are healthy do not need a physician, but the sick do. 32 I have not come to call the righteous to repentance but the sinners."
Levi is traditionally identified as St. Matthew, the tax collector (Mt 9:9; 10:3; Mk 3:18; Lk 6:15; Acts 1:13). Like the fishermen, Levi-Matthew demonstrates his genuine repentance by turning away from his old life to follow the Christ. To celebrate the new direction in his life, he gives a farewell banquet for his friends and associates. His actions recalls Elisha's farewell feast for his friends and family after his call to follow the prophet Elijah (1 Kng 19:19-21). Jesus was probably the chief guest at the banquet. The Pharisees and scribes, who were not at the dinner, criticized Jesus to His disciples.
Question: What two charges did the Pharisees make
1. Jesus ate with tax collectors and other sinners;
2. Jesus did not teach His disciples to fast.
The religiously strict Pharisees considered it a scandal that Jesus ate with known sinners like tax-collectors. The men who collected the taxes for the Romans made a good living, usually by overcharging the tax rate. They were considered to be dishonest men who abused their authority (see the story of Zacchaeus (Lk 19:2-10).
Luke 5:31-32 Jesus said to them in reply, "Those who are healthy do not need a physician, but the sick do. 32 I have not come to call the righteous to repentance but the sinners."
Question: How does Jesus portray the tax collectors
and sinners and how does He describe Himself to the Pharisees?
Answer: In this passage, Jesus is speaking of "healing" as the restoration of a relationship with God. He is the physician and they are the sick who need healing. The spiritually healthy do not need His healing.
In John 8:33-36 and 9:40-41 Jesus will tell His Pharisee detractors that since sin is universal and all mankind falls prey to sin that those like the Pharisees who pretend they are too righteous to sin and do not need His salvation are blind to themselves (see CCC 588).
Luke 5:33-38 ~ A question about fasting
33 And they said to him, "The disciples of John fast often and offer prayers, and the disciples of the Pharisees do the same; but yours eat and drink." 34 Jesus answered them "Can you make the wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them? 35 But the days will come, and when the bridegroom is taken away from them, then they will fast in those days." 36 And he also told them a parable. "No one tears a piece from a new cloak to patch an old one. Otherwise, he will tear the new and the piece from it will not match the old cloak. 37 Likewise, no one pours new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the new wine will burst the skins, and it will be spilled, and the skins will be ruined. 38 Rather, new wine must be poured into fresh wineskins. 39 [And] no one who has been drinking old wine desires new, for he says, The old is good.'"
The practice of fasting was seen as an expression of humility before God, of mourning, repentance and of spiritual purification:
Jesus does not reject fasting and the Church of the New Covenant will practice fasting and prayer (Acts 10:30; 14:23; 27:33; 1 Cor 7:5). However, He teaches that the present time is not the time for fasting.
Question: Why does Jesus reject fasting at the time
of His proclamation of the Kingdom?
Answer: He gives two reasons:
Next, Jesus tells two short parables:
Luke 5:36 And he also told them a parable. "No one tears a piece from a new cloak to patch an old one. Otherwise, he will tear the new and the piece from it will not match the old cloak.
Textiles were not "preshrunk" as they are today. If a new patch was added to an old cloak, when it was washed the new patch of cloth would pucker and shrink. It was not a good fit for the old cloak.
In the second parable He says: 37 Likewise, no one pours new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the new wine will burst the skins, and it will be spilled, and the skins will be ruined. 38 Rather, new wine must be poured into fresh wineskins.
The de-haired skins of animals were sewn together to make bags for wine. The strength of newly fermented wine causes the wineskin to expand. New skins have the copasity to expand but if new wine is put into old skins that have expanded to their limit, the container will burst. In both parables the comparison is about the incompatibility of the old and the new with both parables referring to the Old Covenant of Sinai compared to the New Covenant in Christ. The Old Covenant, like the old wine skins, was good for holding the old wine but it cannot contain the "new wine" that will be the gifts of grace contained within the New Covenant. God's new economy of salvation must have for itself new forms of piety that best suit it.
Luke 5:39 39 [And] no one who has been drinking old wine desires new, for he says, The old is good.'"
Jesus now identifies a problem with those who believe they are satisfied with the "old wine" in that they will resist the "new" that is offered because they believe the "old" is good enough. The warning is that those who refuse to embrace Jesus' message of salvation and the establishment of His Kingdom by closing their minds and hearts to His mission will miss out on the best that God has for them in the New Covenant that was promised by the 6th century BC prophet Jeremiah: The days are coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the hours of Israel and the house of Judah. It will not be like the covenant I made with their fathers the day I took them by the hand to lead them from the land of Egypt ... (Jer 31:31-32). It is in the New Covenant promised by Jeremiah that God will provide the new wine of the Eucharist to nourish His people on their journey to salvation as Jesus will tell His disciples at the Last Supper: And likewise the cup after they had eaten saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which will be shed for you (Lk 22:20).
Michal Hunt, Copyright © 2013 Agape Bible Study. Permissions All Rights Reserved.
1. Luke uses the word "amen" the least of the Gospel writers. The word "amen" occurs 31 times in the Gospel of Matthew, 30 times in the Gospel of Mark, 5 times in the Gospel of Luke (12:37; 18:17, 29; 21:32; 23:43), and 25 times (always doubled) in the Gospel of John. The word "amen" (emen in Hebrew) is an acrostic formed from first letters of the Hebrew phrase: "God is a trustworthy king" (see Rev 3:14 where it is used as a title for Jesus).
2. The ruins of the Synagogue where Jesus taught have been discovered under the ruins of the Capernaum Synagogue that were excavated in 1905-26. That structure was a large, impressively ornate limestone Synagogue planned as a rectangular structure approximately 60 feet wide by 80 feet long. The floor plan included a central nave with side aisles. Stone benches lined the eastern and western walls while the focal point was a raised area that faces south toward Jerusalem. The earlier ruins that were from Jesus' time were built of black basalt stone and followed the same floor plan as the building that was built on its ruins.
Question for reflection or for group discussion:
Question: In Luke 4:38-39, Jesus healed Simon's mother-in-law and in her gratitude she immediately began to offer service to the Lord. In what ways can we show our gratitude to the Lord for the miracles of daily life in which are protected from unclean spirits, have food on our tables, loving families and health. Is it right that we should take so much for granted? Simon's mother-in-law offered Christ service in what she did best as a homemaker. What do you do best that you could offer to the Lord?
Question: In today's lesson how did Jesus bring "liberty" to those individuals
He encountered as proclaimed in the Isaiah 61:1-2 passage?
Answer: Spiritual and physical healing to all.
Michal Hunt, Copyright © 2013 Agape Bible Study. Permissions All Rights Reserved.
Catechism references for this lesson (*indicated Scripture is either quoted or paraphrased in the citation):
CCC 695*, 714
CCC 544, 2443*